If you follow the Chinese zodiac, you’ll know 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. As one of the most influential symbols in Chinese astrology, the dragon represents luck, energy, power, and more.
While Unico is not a dragon, I’d like to focus on his special friend for this post. This little guy’s name is Ragon.
How did Unico and Ragon meet?
Ragon (derived from the word “dragon”) is from the First Grader version of Unico, which was published in Shougaku Ichinensei magazine from April 1980 to January 1984. He first appeared in the September 1980 issue of the magazine in a fun and comical way. Unlike the original comics from the late 70s, this version of Unico features hilarious mishaps and gags for young children.
In this specific episode, the young boy Esuo is visiting a friend’s home where the other boy is showing off a massive ostrich egg. Esuo tells the boy he’s seen something bigger, and the other boy doesn’t believe him. When he returns home, Esuo tells Unico how he wishes he had an egg bigger than an ostrich one. Unico tries to make Esuo’s wish come true by flying out to find the largest egg he could. He succeeds and returns with a massive egg on his back.
There is something odd about this egg, though, as Esuo is curious about the odd pointed tip or “horn.” Unico warns his friend to not touch the tip of the egg, but it’s too late. Esuo touches the tip, and it breaks off!
The egg releases a ton of steam, then fire shoots out. Esuo and Unico hide and see a tail poke out from the hole in the egg, and the two wait to see what happens. The egg bounces around until the little dragon inside pops his head out. His name is Ragon, and he looks angry! The dragon spots the boy and unicorn, then breathes fire through his nostrils, scaring them away.
Esuo asks Unico where he found the egg and Unico tells him he got it in a muddy area of China. As the dragon makes himself at home in Esuo’s room, he puts on the boy’s clothes and begins eating Esuo’s school utensils. This upsets Esuo, who runs into the room to stop the dragon. When Ragon breathes fire through his nose again, he accidentally catches himself on fire. Esuo fetches a bucket of water to help Ragon, but two angry adult dragons appear.
They are Ragon’s parents, and they were searching for the person who stole their child. Unico dodges the two dragons attack until the mother accidentally chomps down on the father’s snout. Ragon tells his parents that he wishes to stay in Japan rather than returning to China.
Ragon’s mother tells Esuo that the baby dragon likes Japan because China and Japan are good friends. She tells the boy to take care of their child and both parents fly off. This is troublesome for Esuo, but the situation wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t asked Unico for a larger egg.
Ragon ends up living with Esuo and Unico, so he is a reoccurring character, causing just as much mayhem as Unico’s magic.
This little baby dragon can be an ornery one. He doesn’t like to follow rules, he loves sweets, hates studying, and often finds himself in trouble. Ragon isn’t causing problems intentionally, he’s still learning. Sometimes he wants to help, but it backfires. Sometimes he has the solutions, but no one is listening. It really all depends on what Ragon faces.
Why we love this little dragon.
Ragon shares several qualities with young children, especially the toddler and young elementary school aged kids. The world is new to them, with plenty of things to explore and experience. He has to learn right from wrong just like anyone else, and I think plenty of us remember those frustrating years, either as a child or maybe as a parent.
In one chapter, Ragon learns that eating too many sweets can cause toothaches. In another, he feels guilty for ruining things because he gets excited. These are everyday lessons children actually learn about, and so Ragon is quite the lovable character. Even though he can throw a tantrum, it’s easy to forgive him because he doesn’t know how to control his emotions yet. Again, normal stuff for young children.
While Ragon has never jumped the popularity charts like Unico and Chao/Katy, he’s still an adorable character in the Unico franchise. There have been a few items made of Ragon, and they may continue to make more in the future. The First Grader magazine often included extras that Unico and his friends would appear on. These items were often educational or games. They would also include stickers in some issues.
One of my favorite merchandise items is the Ragon plush made by Axis. He was part of a Unico set of UFO Catchers (name for plush won in crane games) released possibly in the late 80s or early 90s. Like his first appearance, the plush features Ragon in his shell. Super cute!
Ragon has also appeared in the Tezuka Moderno line of products. He’s often mixed in with other Tezuka characters, but we love seeing him pop up. Hopefully, he’ll be included more often!
Other items have been made available over the past few years. Acrylic stands and keychains are a great way to show Ragon some love. Unico and HIROMAN’S COFFEE had a special collaboration which featured Ragon and Unico on a few items back in 2021. Several of the illustrations were from the First Grader version of Unico, which isn’t often used for products.
Thanks for taking the time to learn about Ragon. If there are other characters you’d like to see, let us know! I’m hoping to continue writing about other characters in the future, so definitely check back from time to time!